India’s Game of Thrones connection

By Sanjay Pandey and Deepali Yadav in India

The Game of Thrones fans world over are crazy about the GOT props and merchandise — be it Batman figures, Jon Snow swords or Ned Stark costumes. But have you ever wondered where these weapons, props and costumes used by your favorite characters are made? Well, they are made in India.

Windlass Steelcrafts, the Dehradun-based flagship company of the Windlass group, was started in 1943 to manufacture Khukris for the British Gurkha regiment in India.The 74-year-old company is primarily into supplying swords to major militaries across the world.

“Our main business is supplying to the different armies around the world. We make around 7000 swords each year for the armies of the UK, the USA, Columbia, Greece, Canada and Australia,” said Sunil Kumar Windlass, Partner, Windlass Steelcrafts.

Over the years, the company has also developed a great working relationship with major the Hollywood movies and production houses. The company have made tons of replica costumes used in several Hollywood films like Gone with the Wind, Rome, Harry Potter and even Star Wars!

“Today, we do props for all different kind of Hollywood movies. If you have seen HBO serial Rome, we supplied a lot of material there. And me and my brother who lives in the US even went to Italy where they were shooting the serial. HBO and us have a long standing relationship. Mostly when they make a serial or whatever, what they do is they appoint an armourer. And that armourer gets in touch with us. We know them and they know our capabilities. So that is how we get into the stage of making some props for them,” said Sunil Kumar Windlass, Partner, Windlass Steelcrafts.

But the bigger business comes their way after these TV shows come out. “After that the studio sells the license to produce. Then it is mass produced and supplied to people. People like you and me, they buy it and keep it in their offices, keep it in their homes,” he added.

The first basic big move that the firm did was Gladiator. Samuel Etherton, an English man who was the armourer for the film got in touch with Windlass Steelcrafts. “We supplied a lot of things for his props and we even visited Pinewood Studio in England. When the movie came out, Factory Axe bought the licence and they placed a lot of orders on us.  We sold about 10000 helmets, 20000 swords after the movie was released,” he said.

The firm also supplied dress material,swords and helmets for 2005- HBO series Rome.  “A lot of these costume designers like April Ferry and other people konw us. You know it keeps on going. Kingdom of Heaven was great for us and, now of Game of Thrones. I just showed you the letter which came from there (GoT producers) where we supplied them armour and things like that.”

Although the firm has not supplied swords to them, but we have a license from them to make larp swords that are made of plastic and foam and are used for fighting.

“They use it because then people don’t get hurt. And it is a big sport at least in Europe and in the US also it is catching up. I would say it is not a big business for us, but it is a prestigious business for us. It does place us, you know, with the top studios and it is something that we are proud of.

Windlass has made licensed merchandise for swords and costumes used in Hollywood blockbusters like Troy and Gladiator

“The shooting props are the items used in the actual shooting of the production. These are generally procured in very small quantities as they are replicated onscreen using the VFX and CGI effects. The production has onset highly accomplished weapon master and armourer, with a full team and they constantly make the props etc.

Under the merchandising licensed props segment the production houses issue licenses to retail high quality replicas of the shooting props which may include clothing , swords and armours,” said Sarthak Gupta, CEO of Windlass Online Stores.

The company, however, has not supplied any clothing/apparel as shooting props in GoT, it has supplied a few armors, helmets etc that have been used in the actual shooting.

So are they a great fan of GoT? “Yes, we do watch the Game of Thrones and it feels great to see the items on screen created by our team at Windlass Steelcrafts. Mr. Pradeep Kumar Windlass (Partner) has visited the sets in the past,” said Gupta, adding “Augusto Grassi, the Armour Master at Game of Thrones recently appreciated our efforts in replicating the designs and the quality of the work that we do.”